The Literacy Pirates - supported by Raise Your Hands | Supporting Small Charities

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The Literacy Pirates

Improving the literacy of young people across London so that they’re not left behind

The Literacy Pirates mission is to develop the literacy, confidence and perseverance of children who are falling behind in class and have fewer opportunities in their personal lives, so they can achieve both at school and beyond.

The Literacy Pirates after-school programmes offer one to one and small group attention from trained volunteers, giving children aged 9-12 the confidence to unfurl their sails.

By welcoming young people into their nautically-themed spaces, publishing their work in the real world, and celebrating everything they do, The Literacy Pirates develop their literacy, confidence and perseverance.

The learning programmes are delivered from fantastical venues in Hackney and Haringey, and via a specially created online platform for Young Pirates who live further afield.

The Cause

Lacking vital literacy skills holds a person back at every stage of their life. As a child they won’t be able to succeed at school, as a young adult they will be locked out of the job market, and as a parent they won’t be able to support their own child’s learning (National Literacy Trust 2019).

The Literacy Pirates aims to support those children who have obstacles to learning and who often struggle to flourish at school. Additionally, their families are not in a position to give additional support. These children are often described as the ‘quietly underachieving’.

Each classroom in the London communities we work with has them; children who are falling behind and have fewer opportunities in their lives. Over time, when their reading and writing does not develop at the same rate as other children, their confidence is eroded.

What They Do

Each year around 450 children, or ‘Young Pirates’, come aboard their Hackney or Haringey ‘Ships’, for a year long programme, or online on the Virtual Ship, for one term. During this time, the Young Pirates attend after-school sessions on a weekly basis.

At each session they receive extra adult attention from a trained volunteer, who supports them in their reading, and in completing termly creative writing projects.

Children on average make 5 to 6 months progress in their reading age each term with The Literacy Pirates. The children they work with are between one to four years behind, and making just four months of progress each academic year.

That means they are making four times the progress they can make at school alone.

– A story from The Literacy Pirates-


Ally is a Year 5 student who started her learning adventures on the Literacy Pirates’ Virtual Ship in September 2022. She was nominated by her teacher because she showed promise but needed a boost of confidence and literacy skills to bring her more in line with her peers.

Initially shy and not instantly engaged, Ally soon loved her sessions on the Virtual Ship. Each week she arrived full of creative ideas, and threw herself into reading and writing projects.

Ally’s Session Leader reported that ‘Ally is a star and I have really enjoyed seeing her become so engaged in our reading texts. She volunteers herself to read first each week, and always poses interesting questions about the topics covered. It has been a delight to see her confidence grow.’

Ally’s mum had this to say: ‘just wanted to say how much Ally loves her Wednesdays now… She shows assertiveness and eagerness to try and it’s wonderful. Thank you!’

Find Out More

Find out more about The Literacy Pirate’s amazing work